Tyco Toys, Inc. (Specimen)

Tyco Toys, Inc. (Specimen)
Item# 4286tti

Tyco was founded in 1926 by John N. Tyler. Tyler named the company Mantua Metal Products, after the town of Mantua, New Jersey, where he ran his small business out of his home. Tyler's company built H-O model trains, track, and other accessories. H-O model trains were half the size of the O standard, hence the name H-O. Tyler initially produced products that would be compatible with existing model train sets built by other companies. Model train building was as old as trains themselves, so Tyler's little company had a guaranteed market if he could produce a good product. In the 1930s he took the first step toward the present-day company when he started producing and marketing his own brand of complete toy train kits.

During this period Tyler's company was as much a part of the hobby industry as a toy manufacturer. While there was some crossover between these two sectors, the hobby industry targeted both adult and child consumers, whereas the toy industry attempted to gauge the changing tastes of children. As the company shifted its focus to toys, the marketing strategy, and indeed the company philosophy, changed dramatically. From a middle-of-the-pack competitor in a fringe sector for over 30 years, Tyco went on to become the third largest toy manufacturer in America.

The first step in this transition occurred in the late 1940s, when Mantua's marketing director, Milt Grey, convinced Tyler to produce a ready-to-run H-O train set rather than continue with model kits. Pre-assembled train sets had been on the market for years, but they were almost always sold in the O scale. Grey argued that the smaller scale would be attractive to kids as well as take up less space on retailers' shelves and stockrooms. With the increase in profit per unit of shelf space, the toys would also be attractive to buyers from the increasingly popular discount chain stores.

The change was risky. It meant marketing a product that was pre-assembled rather than a product whose whole appeal lay in the fact that the purchaser was to assemble it himself. The production and assembly line had to be completely altered to produce assembled sets rather than specific parts. Despite these difficulties, Mantua's preassembled sets were a runaway hit, and industry leaders Lionel and Marx were suddenly forced to take notice of the small New Jersey firm. This success was largely due to the fact that the small pre-assembled sets retained the accuracy of hobby sets, but they could be liberated from hobby stores and therefore reach a much wider potential market. Model manufacturers quickly followed Mantua's lead and competition for this new market became fierce. Several manufacturers were put out of business by the price wars that followed, but Mantua survived and thrived.

Although for years Mantua had been commonly referred to as Tyco after its charismatic owner John Tyler, the company name was finally officially changed from Mantua to Tyco in the 1960s. It was during this decade that the company expanded its line to include electric race-car sets, a logical extension of the already-established niche of preassembled train sets. The addition of electric race-car sets accentuated Tyco's subtle move away from the hobby sector and toward toys. Race cars continued to be a staple of Tyco's product line in the 1990s, and the company would also eventually capture the largest market share in radio control toys..

Close Up of Vignette

Certificate: Subordinated Debenture Note, specimen, late 1900’s

Printer: American Bank Note Company

Dimensions: 8” (h) x 12” (w)

State: DE-Delaware

Subject Matter: Consumer Products | Children’s Games | Specimen Pieces

Vignette Topic(s): Female Subject | Rocket Featured

Condition: No fold lines, punch hole cancels in signature areas and bodies. Very crisp.

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